365 Nature – Day 96
In 2016 I’m doing a 365 Nature project. Each day of the year I will post something here about nature. It may be any format, a photo, video, audio, sketch or entry from my nature journal. It could be a written piece. Each day I will connect to nature in some way and share it here by the end of that day. You can keep up-to-date by subscribing to the RSS feed or be notified by email. See all the 365 Nature posts.
Last night I attended a talk about Pacific Northwest moths and while it was fairly basic, I did learn one thing I had been trying to find the answer for, how many moths are in the state. Worldwide, there are approximately 20,000 butterfly species, but there are over 160,000 moth species. In Washington state there are only 150 species of butterflies and about……3,000 species of moths.
The speaker talked about the reasons people don’t appreciate moths, they’re often considered pests, they’re nocturnal, they’re thought to be drab and boring. The vast majority of moths are of course, not pests. Most are nocturnal, but there are many day flying moths including one I’ve been seeing quite a bit lately, the Half-white Carpet Moth. And moths are certainly not drab or boring. There are of course, many brightly colored moths, but the ones which are brown are often very beautiful. Butterflies are often flashy and brightly colored, but if you take the time to look at a brown moth, often you’ll find a very intricate pattern with many different colors.
Another interesting topic the speaker brought up was that there is very little yet known about our moths. There are so many and so few people studying them there are a lot of gaps in our knowledge, particularly about what their host plants are. He suggested collecting larvae and feeding them plants around where you capture and find them to discover what they eat. Then rear them to adult and maybe discover something new!
On Day 84 I had my first moth of the year and since then I’ve turned my de-activated bug zapper on twice but nothing turned up at it. I caught a glimpse of a moth bouncing around our porch light one night, but it flew off before I could get a look at it. It’s still early in the spring for moths, but I’ll keep trying this spring and summer. I’m very excited to go camping again this year because last year I found a lot of great moths around the lights in the campground bathrooms. (The photos above are from last summer’s camping trips.) This year I’m thinking of getting a black light to hang up at our campsite to try and attract some moths.
There’s a great resource for the Pacific Northwest about moths: Pacific Northwest Moths
Also a national website: Butterflies and Moths of North America
It’s never too early to start thinking about National Moth Week, this year July 23-31.
Kelly holds a bachelors degree in landscape architecture from the University of Oregon and a certificate in non-fiction writing from the University of Washington.